Post-S.D. Inside Story: Mystery Recruits

Leading up to National Signing Day, we kept intimating that UCLA was pursuing some recruits that we couldn't reveal, but now we can, and the stories...

There were a number of stories that happened behind the scenes during the recruiting season that we weren't at liberty to report when they happened.

Just so everyone gets this, we're not holding back this information just to tease you. The vast majority of the time it's because revealing the information at that moment would be detrimental to UCLA's recruiting effort. It could be that UCLA has secretly been recruiting a prospect who is committed elsewhere and if the information went public the program the recruit is committed to would put a huge amount of pressure on him as a result. We think that most BRO readers would rather not have their immediate need for knowledge satisfied if it were to sabotage UCLA's recruiting, right?

We're going to tell these stories without having to attribute each point to "sources." Just assume these stories came from a number of sources around the recruitments of all of these recruits.

The Mystery Recruits

For the month preceeding National Signing Day, we repeatedly said UCLA was still pursuing some recruits whose identities we couldn't share. It was exactly the same as what we said above – if we had revealed what was going on it could have potentially sabotaged UCLA's recruiting efforts.

We already told you about UCLA's effort to flip quarterback Hayden Rettig.

It was revealed about a week before Signing Day that UCLA was involved with Deon Mix, the offensive line prospect from Batesville (Miss.) South Panola. Mix, who at the time was verbally committed to Mississippi State, became close with UCLA-committed Christian Morris at the U.S. Army All-American Game. Morris had told Mix about UCLA, Mix became interested and contacted the UCLA coaching staff. He said he wanted to take an official visit and he was indicating pretty strongly that he would verbally commit. At that point, UCLA had 7 offensive linemen verbally committed, but as we said in the Nico Falah story, UCLA was worried that a couple of them might waver and flip to another program. It was completely appropriate, then, to think about getting a back-up plan, and Mix seemed like a good candidate for it, since he was so strongly indicating he wanted to come to UCLA. One week in late January when the Mississippi State coaches came to his high school, Mix was wearing Bruin gear. He told them he wanted to officially visit UCLA, and the MSU coaches told him he'd have to de-commit to do it, which he then subsequently did. He then arranged an official visit to UCLA. A couple of days later, Mix was continuing to get pressure from the MSU coaches to not take the UCLA visit. UCLA, too, was feeling stronger and stronger about its commitments sticking on Signing Day, and backed off of Mix.

Interestingly, though, Mix then officially visited Auburn that weekend and ultimately signed with them.

Donovan Munger officially visited UCLA for the USC weekend, and as a result, the Bruins were doing very well with the talented OL/DL from Shaker Heights, Ohio. Munger then officially visited local Ohio State in early December, and he swung toward the Buckeyes and he verbally committed there. UCLA, however, kept recruiting Munger, and he was making indications that he still wasn't 100% certain of his commitment to OSU. He took an official visit to Florida State in January. The UCLA Jet actually made a stop in Ohio to visit Munger in January, and the feeling of people close to his recruitment was that the door was still ajar for UCLA to steal Munger from OSU. As Signing Day approached, it appeared that Munger was getting stronger in his commitment to OSU, but UCLA kept trying. Munger is good enough that UCLA possibly could have taken him in addition to the seven OLs that are committed. A couple of days before Signing Day, Munger was then solidly committed to OSU.

As many on the BRO Premium Football Board suspected, UCLA kept trying with Carl Lawson, the elite defensive end prospect from Alpharetta (Georgia) Milton who was verbally committed to Auburn but publicly was considering other schools. If you remember, at times in his recruitment he said he intended to officially visit UCLA. UCLA coaches were talking with Lawson and visited him in January. In fact, at one point, Lawson had arranged an official visit with UCLA for late January. Lawson's recruitment, however, was a circus, as you might expect in the recruitment of an SEC recruit. Lawson ended up visiting Clemson, Tennessee and Georgia Tech in January. Whether Lawson would actually sign with Auburn or potentially take more time to decide was still uncertain up until the last weekend before Signing Day, when he took his official visit to Auburn, and then declared his commitment was solid.

There was one other last-minute surprise that was potentially in the works for Signing Day, and that was Riley Sorenson. The offensive line prospect from Ranch Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita, if you remember, had a UCLA offer back in the summer. It was a contingent offer for about a week – valid as long as Sorenson committed, but if he didn't, the offer was off the table. Sorenson didn't commit and, well, the offer vanished. Sorenson, who has the makings of a good college offensive lineman, just needing to get into shape, then kind of bounced around in terms of the programs interested in him. It appeared that California and Washington had emerged in late fall. Then, Cal Coach Jeff Tedford was fired, and his relationship with the Bears was a bit up in the air. The new coaching staff at Cal indicated to Sorenson that they still wanted him, but the official visit never happened. Washington appeared to fade a bit. It was now January and Sorenson was out there without having taken an official visit anywhere. Getting close to Signing Day, the word was out that there might be a couple of UCLA offensive line commitments that were wavering, so Sorenson contacted UCLA. The Bruin coaches had always liked Sorenson and his potential, the contingent offer in the summer being evidence of that. There was some behind-the-scenes work going on to prepare Sorenson to sign with UCLA on NSD, but UCLA was still uncertain of whether they should go through with it. Sorenson was then contacted by Washington State, the program that first offered him a scholarship. UCLA backed away some, the Cougars offered and Sorenson signed with WSU last Wednesday.


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